Monica Wilson (1908–1982) and social change

David Brokensha

Pages 1-7

Abstract Monica Wilson's writings contain a wealth of material on social change, on how institutions and groups and values change. Based on extensive fieldwork among the Pondo of the Eastern Cape and the Nyakyusa of Tanzania, her ethnographies and many articles are illuminating for many topics, including scale of change, the changing status of women, effects of Christianity, growing inequality and the ‘interpreters’. Unusual for her period, Monica Wilson examined all aspects of society, including missions, trade, schools, migrant labour and, especially, the results of European domination. She was a keen student of history, editing The Oxford History of South Africa Her first monograph, Reaction to Conquest, has been described as ‘a precocious masterpiece’, and is still relevant today, seventy years after its publication. This book analyses change not only in rural Pondo society, but also in the towns, and among ‘Africans on European farms’—even today a neglected field of enquiry. Monica Wilson's rich legacy still has lessons for today.

Subjects: social change, scale, new social groups, farm-workers, Pondo, Nyakyusa


“He who pays the piper…”, the anomaly of custom and constitution local government and traditional leadership

Michael de Jongh

pages 8-16

Abstract In December 2003 the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act 2003 (No 41 of 2003) was eventually promulgated. This was the culmination of an extended process of submissions Consultation releasing of a draft White Paper workshops activities of a White Paper Task Team and its subcommittees meetings with the responsible minister and between various ministries. Stemming from the experiences and perceptions of an anthropologist commissioned to become involved in a part of this process this paper seeks to interrogate some of the issues which emerged in the course of proceedings.
In arguing that policy development and implementation is about intentional human behaviour and that some preceding ideas conceptions or notions are always involved it follows that many variables can play a role in the decision-making and strategies involved. Thus the information available perceptions of such information political (and other) agendas and power relations between individuals and groups and between levels of authority all come into play.

Subjects: traditional leadership, local government, constitution, policy analysis, policy development


The end of culture? Some directions for anthropology at the University of Pretoria

John Sharp

pages 17-23

Abstract This is the text of on inaugural lecture as Professor of Anthropology and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Pretoria delivered on 19 October 2004. Several changes have been made to the text to enhance its readability but I have sought to preserve its character as a lecture given to an audience of colleagues in other disciplines as well as fellow anthropologists.

Subjects: culture, identity, de-industrialisation, re-traditionalisation, post-apartheid South Africa


The roots and complexity of the land issue and of land claims in South

FC de Beer

pages 24-34

Abstract Land reform and land restitution are current and emotional issues in South Africa and a scrutiny of the antecedent events and processes is crucial for an understanding of the complexities involved. Comprehending the land issue requires a reflection on the effect of the difaqane (wars of destruction) on the lives of people and their desolation in the interior of South Africa the impact of official regulations and legislation by successive white governments on the land rights of blacks the passing of recent legislation for the restitution of land rights which blacks believed they were deprived of after 19 June 1913 due to racially-based laws and practices. In a case study which focuses on the land claim of the ‘Mekgareng Community’ in the Bojanala District of the North West Province the effect of the factors indicated above is discussed to illustrate the main issues involved.

Subjects: land restitution, land claims, difaqane, Native Land Act, Native Trust and Land Act, Restitution of Land Rights Act, ‘black spots’, ‘Mekgareng community’, Land Claims Commissioner, risk management, genealogical method


Sign-deaf spaces The Deaf in Cape Town creating community crossing boundaries constructing identity

Marion Heap

pages 35-44

Abstract The paper examines how adults in Cape Town who were born deaf or who became deaf as children and whose first language is South African Sign, strategise to deal with being marginalised in a hearing world. The paper draws on a long-term study (September 1995 to December 2001). Using ethnographic evidence it demonstrates sign-deaf spaces as community. ‘Community’ entails networks of social relationships that function to create spaces of shared sign language familiarity sociability and communality in an often hostile hearing world. The boundaries of the sign-deaf spaces are difficult to determine. In sociable contexts signed language facilitates interactions across spoken language barriers locally and internationally. Sign language proves to be a marker of Deaf identity in certain hearing contexts but importantly it serves to disperse identity in the sign-deaf space. The paradoxical outcome is that in the sign-deaf space the Deaf are rarely ‘deaf certainly not in any socially handicapped or deficit way.


Ethics and the Everyday: Reconsidering approaches to research involving children and young people

Rachel Bray & Imke Gooskens

pages 45-57

Abstract Guidelines on ethical practice in research with children tend to focus on ways to protect children from potential economic and emotional exploitation. While such concerns deserve attention we argue that they represent only a portion of the moral framework in which researchers and participants operate. Through an analysis of children's engagement in a long-term ethnographic study where their participation involved both providing and gathering data we show the interconnections between so-called Research activities' and young people's everyday decision-making. Children's participation in research takes place within existing and emerging relationships. Decision-making based on values—on the part of both children and adults—is part and parcel of these relationships. This paper demonstrates the need to engage with children's moral worlds seriously while planning and conducting social research.

Subjets: Children, teenagers, participation, research partnership, morality, decision-making, communication


Window onto a world of waste: cultural aspects of work in South Africa

Vivienne Ward & Frans Kamsteeg

pages 58-65

Abstract In the Western Cape a system has emerged in recent years where informal groupings of poor people make a living by recycling waste material in exchange for cash. There are several dynamic interfaces in this process and this short study highlights the relationships between the different actors—from the poor people who make a living by collecting waste through to the needs of the formal recycling organisation which increases its turnover and efficiency by accommodating informal collectors. The study explores the organising processes and cultural meaning systems that have emerged as the recycling activity has evolved and adapted to the needs of the various actors. It considers both local and macro contexts situating the recycling activity in the social reality of poverty and lack of formal employment opportunities. Essentially the study focuses on the underside of organisational life those adaptive but sometimes hidden and unofficial arrangements by which things get accomplished or ignored. Looking through the lens of symbols (words deeds and objects) the observer becomes aware of issues of identity (the positions of the players) culture (the rules of the play) and power (their playing strength). The observation of daily organisational work processes in which the stories find their roots offers the opportunity for unexpected insights into what happens in ‘a world of waste’

Subjects: organisation, culture, identity, networks, informal economy, methodology